No, I’m not talking about some sort of epic Gandalf-Saruman-esque showdown (as awesome as it would be to watch Merlin fight himself). I’m talking about the epic fight for supremacy that’s currently going on in my imagination between Colin Morgan — the actor portraying the wizard in the new Merlin miniseries, airing tonight at 8 p.m. on NBC — and Sam Neil, the actor who expertly stepped into Merlin’s magical shoes more than a decade ago.
Sure, 1998’s Merlin already has the advantage, being that it’s my favorite miniseries of all time, and I have yet to see tonight’s Merlin. But my colleague Adam Markovitz has made a strong case for Morgan in his B+ review of the miniseries, which began last Sunday: “There’s enough sword-clanging action — not to mention homoerotic tension — to keep viewers happily entertained for a spell.”
So let’s weigh their pros and cons. Morgan’s pros: 1) He’s a looker, 2) Re-imagined as a youngster, Merlin is likely more productive in night-time battle, considering his ability to go to bed after 8 pm. Cons: 1) Battling at dawn proves more difficult, without chalices full of Red Bull, and 2) I can’t seem to get behind a character that has strayed so much from its original form (blasphemy!). Now, let’s look at Neil’s Merlin. Pros: 1) He’s awesome, 2) He’s guides Arthur, defeats Mab, and gets the girl all on his own, and 3) He’s awesome. Cons: Well, I’ll let you guys fill in the cons on this one, because I really can’t think of any!
Who wins the battle for supremacy, folks? And will you be watching Merlin tonight?